New Habits for a New Year

At the end of a year it’s not unusual for people to reflect and take stock of their life and think about changes that they would like to see in the new year. That might include: getting a new job, starting a new hobby or joining the gym. The thought is often a new year equals a new start. Many of us therefore make new year resolutions to that end. Sadly we normally struggle to keep our resolutions beyond the first week of the new year!

Although we do not need to wait until 1 January each year to look to make changes in our lives, often people feel a renewed desire to do this when the new year starts. Whilst new years resolutions are not wrong, I believe that it is more important that instead we seek to develop new habits for a new year. Habits need to be developed. They do not just happen overnight. It takes time. Developing new habits will invariably mean old habits will need to go.

For example, if you decide that you are going to get up 20 minutes earlier each day to read your bible in the morning then part of this habit will no doubt involve going to bed 20 minutes earlier each night. This means that self discipline needs to be exercised in not staying up and watching late night television or looking at social media!

It’s good to remind ourselves that as we seek to develop new habits it’s not just a case of following rules, but rather the development of godly self discipline. Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:22-23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is………… self-control

One of the new habits I want to introduce in my life in 2020 is the better use of my time. In particular I will be endeavouring to spend less time watching television and being online. I want to use the time previously spent doing those activities with undertaking more reading. I am very conscious how easy it is for me to waste countless hours looking at a screen and am reminded of Psalm 90:12:

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

As I close this post permit me to ask you a question: What new habits for this new year are you hoping to develop?


Developing Good Habits

One of the towns I like to visit has a one-way traffic system running through the centre of it. However for some reason whenever I cross the road in this town I always look both to the left and right before walking across the road.

I have often wondered why I look both ways in this situation because the cars can only come from one direction! After thinking about this I have come to the conclusion that I do this out of habit. I was taught from a young age to look both ways before crossing the road so that is what I do, even in a one-way street.

This got me thinking on the importance of developing good habits in our lives. When we develop good habits we find that they become second nature to us and we do them naturally. They become part of us.

So how long does it take to develop a habit? If you type that question into Google there are a number of web pages you can find that suggests that 21 days is the answer to that question. However I’m not sure there is an exact science to this. There are obviously some habits that take longer to develop than others. Also it goes without saying that there are some habits that take considerable more than 21 days to break.

There are many good habits that we should seek to develop as a Christian. The following three I believe are worth pursuing:

Regular Bible reading and Prayer

One of the good habits I was taught as a young Christian was the importance of setting aside some time each day to read my bible and prayer.

For a new Christian it can be useful to start off by either reading through one of the gospels or alternatively using bible reading notes.

You might ask “when is it best to read the bible and pray?” When I was younger I tended to do my daily bible readings and prayers in the evening as that best fitted in with my daily schedule. However as I got older I changed that to the morning as I found that worked best for me. Whether you do this in the morning or evening does not really matter though. The important thing is to find time each day to read your bible and pray.

Controlling our tongues

Perhaps the most challenging thing in life is controlling our tongues. There are plenty of bible verses that tell us the importance of this. The book of James has some very strong warnings about our tongues and how we should not criticise others.

I expect we all have many times deeply regretted saying something to someone that has caused unnecessary upset. So much damage can be done by careless words.

One of the best habits that we can develop is to decide that we will not criticise others and to think before we speak.

Forgive as we have been forgiven

As a Christian it is a wonderful thing to know that Jesus has forgiven me. He has totally forgiven me.

Therefore just as we have been forgiven we should also be willing to forgive others who have wronged us. If we are being honest most of us would admit that we find this difficult at times.

However we need to remember that forgiving others is extremely important. We pray in the Lord’s Prayer “forgive us our sin as we forgive those that sin against us.” If we don’t forgive others then we run the potential risk of not having our sins forgiven.

So we really need to develop the habit of forgiving others. It’s an important habit to develop.